Long Fringe Review: Don't Go in the House

A triple-megaton blast of power and cleverness.

Donald Sutherland gonna snatch your body!!
Donald Sutherland gonna snatch your body!!

Sometimes the best theatre isn’t very, well, theatre-y. No dance numbers, no special effects, no cast of costumed characters invigorating a painstakingly constructed set. Maybe nothing more than a bit of audio-visual enhancement providing context for a single actor speaking on a plain stage.

Problem is, the written material that's spoken – the script – has to be pretty damned good to succeed in such a minimal environment. Which is why the Dirigo Group's Don't Go in the House succeeds: not much more enjoyable writing on an Austin stage, ever, than a series of insightful, pop-culture-infused monologues by Lowell Bartholomee. From the snarky comedy of "Fear Itself," an over-the-top home-security sales pitch performed by the playwright, to "Dawn of the Drowsy," a look at the job-hunting travails of an apocalypse-obsessed woman portrayed by Ellie McBride, to the childhood-memoir-cum-film-critique "They’re Coming To Get You!," brought wonderfully to life by Robert S. Fisher, this show packs a triple megaton of power and cleverness into its existence. The only thing that could make it better, perhaps, is if the middle of the show featured a brief, palate-cleansing break from the Bartholomeeness &ndash Dan Dietz’s short and unsettling Heideman Award-winner called "Lobster Boy," say, given perfect voice by the Chronicle’s own Robert Faires. Oh, look, you lucky theatregoer: It does.

Thursday, Feb. 2, 8:30pm, Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd. Running time: 1 hr., 15 min. For more information, visit www.hydeparktheatre.org.

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